Please be in all my future limited decks. I’ll pay you life!
Thanks in advance,
Yes, I mean this. It’s hard to think of anything more solid on your third turn than a Phyrexian Rager. It is a Gray Ogre with a cantrip, at the cost of a measly life. And I have twenty of those, so I can miss a few. It takes out opposing bears without costing you a card, and when there are no opposing bears it just Rages at your opponent. Now one might ask himself why I am so excited about this Necro-creature, but I’ll tell you: I didn’t have just one of them. Just read on, I’ll tell you more about it eventually. But the fact remains: Having one in your opening hand is just like having drawn an eight-card hand. And the heck with that ‘siphon-creatures’ stuff — they’re Necro-creatures!
I really was looking forward to this tournament. In my opinion, there’s nothing more fun then a prerelease tournament. I already loved sealed deck the most as a tournament format before my first prerelease, which was Urza’s Legacy, but that tournament instantly made prereleases my favorite type of competition.
First, of course, because it was a limited event…. But also important is, of course, that you get to play with new cards. I’m sure many of you will remember your glee after surprise-blocking a critter with Simian Grunts at the Legacy prerelease. One of my primary interests is, however, the often beautiful T-shirts one can win there. I won a Destiny shirt and a Prophecy shirt. So the pattern I discerned here was that I was going to win an Apocalypse shirt, too — for Apocalypse is the third set of a cycle, just like those other two. But let’s quit this pre-report charade and let us plunge into the report charade.
(All charades here, I can’t write businesslike. I must always try and spice it up with silly anecdotes and obscene references. My Dutch-teacher likes it when I do that:”It is good to write like that, Stijn! It attracts readers.” But my physics teacher dislikes it:”If you ever write a real publication like this, you’ll be the laughing stock of the entire scientific world!”)
(The physics teacher is wrong, folks – The Ferrett)
After arriving at the site after an unexpected long but healthy bike ride we were greeted by the expected crowd of locals. Since I never ended anywhere below third at a prerelease, except the Prophecy fiasco, where I mised my prizes from the B pool (hey, prizes are prizes and a shirt with Latulla on the back rocks), I was the scrubs’ favorite. After a long wait, and an announcement warning us for a match loss if we used our own product, we sat down and received our product. First I opened my starter and gaped at the rares in awe and amazement:
If nothing else is possible, I could always just play these and add 37 land. But luckily, my Apocalypse boosters held more for me: Desolation Angel. I’m starting to see a theme here. I’ve already got three angels in black and white. Angels are good… Until you open Haunted Angel as an uncommon. The rare from the same pack, however, was a Mystic Snake: I’ll play an instant Ogre and counter your spell, thank you! The last rare was a Last Stand — that’s binder fodder.
So after separating all my cards into piles of each color or color combination, it was very clear very quickly I was going to play black and blue. Red totally sucked, but both green and white like they would complete my BU base nicely. White had the strong Galina’s Knight, Razorfoot Griffin, Putrid Warrior and Benalish Lancer as solid commons, and also offered me the possibility of paying the kicker on my Desolation Angel. Reya would also be played, and whenever I couldn’t cast her I would just discard her to my Probe. Last pro-white argument: Night/Day. I thought it would be a good card.
But green maybe looked even better. Best, of course, would be the Mystic Snake, but I also had:
Lay of the Land
Jungle Barrier (foiled)
2x Glade Gnarr
This appealed to me as even stronger than white… And I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to regain my Mystic Snake with Crypt Angel. Green also offered regeneration possibility on my Living Airship, and the mana fixers like Harrow and Lay of the Land sealed my choice. Now you’re all probably curious about the rest of the deck, and to ease your curiosity I will now write it down:
2x Phyrexian Rager
Phyrexian Gargantua (Necro for two)
Probe Kicker (Isn’t that the name of the card?)
Lay of the Land
Now, what (and why) I left out:
Llanowar Cavalry: they might be great early beats and serve as a wall in the late game, but I wanted early beats that were also great outside of the theoretical world.
Quirion Trailblazer: I already had two mana fixers and I only had one double-colored casting cost in each color (the Mystic Snake, the Chameleon, and the Gargantua), so I didn’t fear colorscrew all that much.
Quirion Sentinel: Different card, same reason.
Soul Burn: Realistically, you’ll never burn for more than two. That’s bad.
Urborg Phantom: I felt like I had enough early drops, so even though this is a very aggressive one it was left out since it gets killed by 1/1s.
On to the first round, where I’ll hopefully have an opponent with a seventy-card deck. I know it’s not very sportsmanlike of mine to say this out loud, but we all hope to win our rounds, don’t we?
Round 1: Rutger Born
Rutger has a forty-card deck… But I’ve never ever seen him before, so I reckon he can’t be a pro, much to my relief. Best cards: Anavolver, Penumbra Wurm, Savage Gorilla and eight other removal spells.
My first spell of the tournament was a Lay of the Land, which showed me that it is a very solid card. When played on turn one, you can search out exactly the land you need. In Limited, this card gives me the same feeling as an Impulse in Extended. But I quickly discovered that Lay of the Land on its own wouldn’t win me the game so I played an Ebony Treefolk. His third turn starred a Coastal Drake and on my turn I delivered my first blow, for three. A Phyrexian Rager entered play, and some turns later we find ourselves with all creatures traded away against each other, save for my Treefolk. Accompanied by a Hate Weaver, it then goes all the way. I end at nineteen life, because I necro’d once.
Second game doesn’t see many interesting plays, because Rutger drew only three spells: a Dream Trush, a Reef Shaman and a Tidal Visionary. He could turn everything into everything! But I turned my bears and Treefolk into victory and won the first round. Just before the last round, it turned out that I was the only one who had beaten Rutger, and he won himself some prizes.
points: 3 matches: 1-0 games: 2-0
Round 2: Luchthoofd
Oh no — Luchthoofd is a friend of mine so I don’t want him to lose a round so early. But, of course, I don’t want to lose either. We sat next to each other while constructing our decks, and I know he’s playing 5.color.Cromat.dec while he knows I’m playing a”turn-eight-have-five-fatties-in-play-yet-still-seven-cards-in-my-hand-with-Mystic-Snake-back-up-deck.” Luckily, he seems more afraid of me than I am of him.
I laid a bear. The second creature to hit the board on my side was a Rager, so I paid one life, set aside the top card of my library and put it into my hand at end of turn. But then, on his turn, he played a Penumbra Bobcat, thus halting my offense. Those things are so annoying! They kill a bear and then come back to eat another one! But alas, my Rager had already replaced itself, so I just sent my two bears to the Cat, thus giving up my previously gained card advantage. This was all for the greater good of the momentum, for I had some more bears and ogres in stock. Finally, while at eight life, he managed to stabilize and started spanking me with a Living Airship. I had ‘only’ six cards in my deck that could deal with this one, but when I hit thirteen life I drew a Rager. Misplaying the Necro-rule, I immediately drew the card (this was done only because I needed it so badly; otherwise I would certainly have necro’d properly), which was the Phyrexian Gargantua! Those are so evil, as implied by the flavor text. You’re always happy to draw these, and you even play them when you only have three life left. And having more than three life left, I played it, too. I set aside the top two cards from my library and said ‘thou art,’ which is much cooler than ‘go.’ On my next turn I played the Living Airship I drew myself, and so I stabilized at six. My ground pressure was increased significantly by the two necro-dudes, and Barrin’s Spite led me to triumph.
The second game was less exciting. Luchthoofd missed three land drops after his third and so his Jungle Barrier showed up a little to late to really save him from my massive horde of bears. before that Barrier arrived, I even decided to Barrin’s Spite his Razorfin Hunter and his Gaea’s Skyfolk so that I could chip in some more damage. While at nine, he finally gained a little more control of the situation as he drew some land. He once again attempted to beat me down with Living Airship, but before it lost its summoning sickness I played my Crypt Angel, recovering my lost Merfolk Zombie. I had constant pressure on him, but he just failed to die. I kept playing more creatures than he did, including my Gargantua, but he managed to hold it with spells like Jilt. Luckily, he didn’t know I had Mystic Snake in my hand so he decided to Jilt one of my bears while bouncing his own wall. When he tried to replay it, I totally screwed up his combat math by playing Mystic Snake. I thought this was the best move. I could just have countered his Jilt, but that would give him more info during his turn. Now he had to tie up all his mana to cast the wall again, and that, combined with the extra bear on my side was, I think, the best thing to do. This caused me to win at seventeen, for he had pinged me once with his Hunter.
points: 6 matches: 2-0 games: 4-0
Round 3: Onno van der Velde
Well that’s just great; another fellow Labyrinthine (The Labyrinth is our local store). But this one I only know him from the Wednesday night Magic, which happens to be much more fun than Friday night Magic, so I won’t feel that bad if I happen to win.
I first lay down a Vodalian Zombie and start eating two per turn. On his third turn, however, he lays a Rager of his own. At first he just draws the card he should necro, but I quickly instruct him how to use the siphon creatures and he agrees with me wholeheartedly. He then just sets the drawn card aside to put it into his hand at end of turn, like it should be done. I try to trade bears, but he has other plans and takes two to the head while I lay another creature. On his turn, he casts Fervent Charge — also known as two Glorious Anthems. Then he charges with his Rager in a very Fervent way. This situation might get scary for me, but the only other creatures he manages to get into play are mana elves and other assorted bears. Meanwhile, I’m beating him steadily and our life totals are dwindling in a comparable fashion. In the end, a Jungle Barrier and an Ebony Treefolk with the mana to pump it twice cause him to cease attacking altogether. After seeing his life total continuing to drop while mine had fixed itself at eight, I got to enjoy the sight of an opponent making a wide scooping motion.
The second game lead to a huge stall, where he beat me every turn with his Lightning Angel which I blocked with my Airship every turn. Nothing happened and I feared he would draw his Fervent Charge before I would draw one of my two counterspells. He doesn’t draw his Charge and I don’t draw the spells… But I do draw an Exotic Curse, which I slap unto his Angel so that my Living Airship can move back to the front. For some reason I think his Angel still has a power of one, so I keep my Coastal Drake at home instead of sending it. This spared him about six damage. This stupid mistake of mine cost me the game, for he ended at five when he overwhelmed me with his Ancestral Recall (sorry — eant Urborg Uprising). He Uprose a random fatty and his Lightning Angel after having chumped with it. I didn’t draw Malice or Crypt Angel to fend of the Angel, and as he had slaughtered my Airship in one way or another I got contaminated with a loss.
All this dilly-dallying cost us a lot of time, so the third game didn’t reach its finish — the fact of which filled Onno with joy, for I was whooping him badly with a Chameleon and a Gargantua and a Treefolk combined! But oh, such is life, c’est la vie, ‘t is toch allemaal wat, so ist’s Leben, vita curiosa est et cetera. (I hope none of that is dirty – The Ferrett, monolinguist)
points: 7 matches: 2-0-1 games: 5-1
Round 4: Steven Frencken
Best cards: Spectral Lynx, Armadillo Cloak, Degavolver, Phyrexian Infiltrator, Teferi’s Moat. Due to the fact he played all these cards, he had a very janky mana base. He also played a fifty-card deck. But luckily, he had a very good sideboard: It contained Phyrexian Arena. Don’t ask.
We’re halfway through the tournament now, so a little anecdote about Steven might be a welcome digression. I sat next to him during the previous round and saw him pounding upon a girlfriend of mine, Anja, with an Armadillo Cloaked and double-kickered Degavolver (that’s the one with first strike and regeneration). He won that game, chattering loudly about the superiority of his Cloaked creature, so I said, looking at Anja:”Humph; anyone can beat a girl.” She then tried to kick me under the table, but hit only my opponent. Steven and I laughed ‘till the cows came home. (The Charm School might well kick you too if they don’t see the humor in this – The Ferrett)
So against me, Steven tried to pull of the Degavolver/Cloak trick again, but he had to do better than that to beat me. I cast Barrin’s Spite to bounce his Volver and kill a bear, burying his Cloak somewhere in between. The stall the game ended up in was broken by me casting Dead Ringers on his two largest creatures, which both happened not to be a color the other wasn’t. His life totals went fourteen, two, concede. The only beats I had taken were some early ones from Spectral Lynx. My god, is that creature some good or not? Luckily, he forgot to regenerate it while blocking one of my Ragers. How often does that happen at table six?
The second game featured me doing the”turn two Bear of Deep Shadow, turn three Phyrexian Rager/slap opponent, turn four Probe with Kicker/slap again, turn five Phyrexian Gargantua”-thing, which, after me handling his Teferi’s Moat in a Spiteful manner while it was still on the stack, caused him to flee the site in terror. (Well, he could have just left for some fries, but that’s only a wild guess.)
points: 10 matches: 3-0-1 games: 7-1
Round 5: Jelmer (Hoek/van Hoek/Hoeksma/something with Hoek, I forgot which. He’s nicknamed ‘The Hoek’ though.)
Best cards: Order/Chaos, Prophetic Bolt, Skizzik.
Well, it’s always good fun to play the owner of your store right? We’ll find out soon enough. Oh, and a quick look around thought us that only one person in the current top eight (seated at table 1-4) wasn’t from our store. We rock!
So his first drop is a Samite Archer. That’s annoying. So his second drop is a Raka Sanctuary — that’s brutal! Combined with the Archer, he could now deal four damage to any given creature in play during his upkeep. Unless that creature is a Zephid, but we don’t get that here very often. Now he felt pretty comfortable for I would be losing a creature every turn. I felt pretty distressed for the same reason. But I quickly found an answer: The Raka Sanctuary must be activated, even when it’s controller would be the one losing the creature. So When I had only a few creatures left, I alpha struck to force two damage through. All blocked creatures were killed by their interceptors. During his upkeep, he shot my last creature and grinned. But one upkeep later I told him he now had to shoot his own creatures, and that quickly wiped the grin off his face. When I had still eight life left he, too, had lost all his creatures due to the Sanctuary and we started anew at my eight life versus his thirteen. I had two cards more in my hand than he had. The game evolved into a huge stall, with both players controlling five or more creatures. His creatures weren’t blue, though, so his Sanctuary didn’t do squat. I was holding Dead Ringers and was waiting for him to play a non-artifact creature so I could Ring two of his beasts to death. On his turn, he drew, tapped six mana and played a card. I was hoping:”Please, be Benalish Lancer because you’re white and oh so expensive” — and behold, it was a Lancer! Ringers killed it and his Angel of Mercy, while Jelmer moved to scoopsville.
Second game I saw him dropping a second-turn Obsidian Acolyte. That’s unfair! I had a lot of creatures and stuff, but due to his Acolyte he was able to create a stare down between my army and his three creatures: Acolyte, Angel of Mercy and Kavu Runner. While he gathered some more creatures and some more plains, he was able to even send in a pro-black creature for some face smashing. Yes, it was one of those games where I drew only black creatures. But a dawn broke and I drew Jungle Barrier, whose cantrip drew me Living Airship. For now, his beatdown had been stopped and I stabilized. At six. It was at that point that I decided to lay apart four mana sources and never use them so that I could Spite a certain card I knew he had whenever he would cast it. That card was Chaos, the best part of the Order/Chaos split card. I knew he had it because he expressed his amazement about it profoundly while building his deck. And two turns later, my carefulness paid of as I was able to stoically counter his Chaos in total disrespect of the flair he played it with. I always enjoy not expressing even the smallest amount of fear when an opponent plays a bomb like that. Example:
Opponent:”Attack for seventy-five, play Rith the Awakener, Ancestral myself. Play Plaguewind. Mind twist for seven. ‘Geddon.”
Me:”Okay, is it my turn now?”
This often puzzles them and makes them play more carefully than necessary because they’re thinking you’re holding an answer. In the meantime, his force had augmented with some more random ogres like Tundra Kavu. I had also gotten to the point where I had drawn my Crypt Angel to begin nibbling away at his life as he couldn’t block it with his white flyers. Though he was still at 17 and I was only at 3, things were looking grim for the Hoek. In a last desperate attempt, he attacked with all his creatures and gave them all protection from black. But as soon as I blocked an attacker with Jungle Barrier, he discovered that it wasn’t black and saw all of his math ruined. I must admit that the foilness of my Jungle Barrier made it look more or less like a black card… He conceded at seventeen.
points: 13 matches: 4-0-1 games: 9-1
And now for the last round!
Round 6: Johan Koppen.
Best cards: Breath of Darigaaz, Fire/Ice and the Pyre Zombie he never drew, hallelujah.
To make up for my first round, I now got an opponent with a sixty-card deck. I think he just topdecked like a god all of his previous rounds, for I crushed him like a Sea Snidd. In the first game he managed to trade his Phyrexian Rager for my three drop, a Penumbra Bobcat. So my assault continued unharmed, yet not unharming, during my next turn. Featured assailants were the Bobcat, Phyrexian Gargantua, and Ebony Treefolk. I ended at eighteen due to my necros. And on the subject of necros, Johan had listened to me very well as he handled his Rager’s cantrip during the next game by setting aside the top card of his library and putting it in his hand during his discard step. I began to like this guy.
The second game he had to block my Ebony Treefolk with a bear of his and a Bloodfire Dwarf. This and the fact that the three other creatures I had in play were Necro creatures, gave me severe card advantage. He chump-blocked my forces while he was still at fifteen, which seemed odd to me — but it made perfect sense, since he played Breath of Darigaaz during his next pre-combat main phase. But I recovered like something which recovers pretty fast, and two turns later I had a Crypt Angel and a blue creature brought back by Crypt Angel fulfilling the role of beatstick. I ended at eleven due to his Breath, my three Necros, and a single attack from his first-turn Bloodfire Dwarf.
points: 16 matches: 5-0-1 games: 11-1
Yay, I won a T-shirt with a Desolation Angel on the back! What a shame it didn’t have a pocket where I fit the eighteen boosters my second place granted me as well. The boosters gave me a second Mystic Snake, two Vindicates, three painlands, one foil Painland that I sold for $30 (yay again), a Death Grasp, Goblin Trenches — and only two rares I wasn’t happy with, which were Ice Cave and Degavolver. All the other rares pros consider chaff fit well into a multiplayer deck of mine… Like the Bloodfire Cyclops that I put into my Corpse Dance deck. It’s like Inferno with Buyback — burn, baby, burn! Look the deck up in my archive whenever you’re interested in multiplayer magic in addition to sanctioned play (and you should be, for multiplayer is almost as much fun as sealed deck tournaments. It’s only more common, so it’s less special. I do believe that there is a positive correlation between multiplayer skills and limited skills. Didn’t the Ferrett qualify for a PT in a limited PTQ? Doesn’t Anthony Alongi write good articles on team sealed? Didn’t I win two prereleases in a row?).
The first place was taken by Bas Postema, who had also won yesterday’s prerelease in another city. But he’s also from my store, so I don’t care. By the way, he only won because he never got paired against me…
Next time: I got a request to do an article on Reins of Power. Is it pure coincidence that I already had a deck built around it or was it divine intervention? Anyway, back to the world of multiplayer.
Stijn van Dongen,
Anybody who doesn’t think I’m totally awful at tournament reports is invited to tell me personally at [email protected]